Atari Lynx Review: Pit-Fighter on Lynx Lounge
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By Brian Thomas Barnhart |
What’s up, jabronis? You’re entering a wimp-free zone. You got that? And we’re playing a man’s game today. Not a little baby game like Centipede. Get this baby game off man, get it outa here. We’re playing a game for dudes! It’s called Pit-Fighter.
Now I’m glad that is out of my system, but I’m still gonna use my “tough guy” mug for this episode. Thank you Mason for this, isn’t this awesome? Love it. It’s the Terminator mug!
Anyway, let’s talk about Pit-Fighter. Pit-Fighter, to me, is a “guilty pleasure” game. I have guilty pleasure movies, Flash Gordon would be one of them. Another one would be Road House. Now, I equate Road House and Pit-Fighter almost on the same plane. Like, I feel like it’s the same universe, and I’ll tell you why.
Let’s check out Pit-Fighter right now, as we walk down memory lane and check out our arcade ports on the Lynx Lounge. Get ready for some Pit-Fighter.
Pit-Fighter hit the arcades in 1990. And it had some pretty amazing tech behind it, because this was the second game to use digitized actors as the actual sprites in the game.
What that means is, in layman’s terms, basically they just got a bunch of actors and they filmed them kicking and punching and fighting. Then they loaded those images into the computer and turned those images into the graphics that you see for the game. And when you that for the first time, it was pretty amazing.
Now I say the second game to come out with these sort of digitized actors involved, because the first game actually never hit the states. I believe they used marionette puppets or something like that, then they digitized the marionette puppets into the game. Same kind of concept, I believe it was like a side scrolling beat ’em up, or like a Street Fighter game.
However, I know about Pit-Fighter because I used to play that game a lot in the arcades. I think the reason I played Pit-Fighter a lot in the arcades was because it was one of those machines that was probably in every single arcade, however, the lines were very short.
Sometimes people weren’t even playing the game, and I would just go in, drop in a quarter and have a good time with it. I think people had moved on after they realized it was a little cheesy around the edges, but that was the kind of charm that I really loved about the game.
So what does Pit-Fighter have to do with Road House? Or Patrick Swayze? Or anything like that? Well, absolutely nothing. However, in my mind I felt like it did, and here’s why.
I had these older cousins, and they were talking about this movie that just come out. Road House. And I was like “I’ve gotta see this movie, man.” Everything that these guys are saying, this movie sounds amazing.
There’s like a Bigfoot truck, that like, destroys cars. There’s Patrick Swayze like ripping the throat out of dudes in a bar. He does like Tai Chi and all that stuff. And I’m like “I’ve got to see this movie, this movie sounds absolutely amazing.”
So I see this movie, and I’m blown away by it. I love it. Road House is so cheesy. But it’s so good. The lines are amazing. It’s my way or the highway. It is just a gem of a guilty pleasure movie.
“Well, Road House was a movie from the 1980s and let me tell you it was just awesome. You had Patrick Swayze, and he was giving all these bad guys Road House kicks to the face. You had brawling. Fighting. You had karate. Monster trucks. Beer. Cool bar scenes. Girls. This movie was just totally bad to the bone.”
– Atari Joe
Then, I see this game in the arcade, Pit-Fighter.
And all of a sudden I’m getting these Road House vibes from it. You know, they’re like fighting in a bar. There’s people cheering you on. People throwing stuff from the crowd. You win money. Getting girls. It’s the American dream, really it is.
So in a strange way, I kind of elated the two universes together. So to me, I feel like any time I play Pit-Fighter, I want to watch Road House. It’s just the way it is.
So how does Pit-Fighter fair on a portable system? Well let’s take a look at it.
First of all, I feel like this is a game where the Lynx is really working overtime. It’s working overtime on the graphics, it’s working overtime on the sound, and the music, and it’s really really pushing the boundaries of what this system could do. I mean, remember, this is a portable system. On the go. And here I am playing this version of Pit-Fighter. How does it fair? Well to be honest, it’s got some good things and it has some bad things.
Let’s talk about the good things:
You’ve got all the digitized graphics. It looks like what it should look like on the arcade. The color is a little washed out. It kind of has this sepia tone feel to it. But none the less, this version of Pit-Fighter is actually doing something that no other versions of Pit-Fighter are doing. And I mean this game was ported to every single system you can imagine. Pit-Fighter was a hit, and it was on everything.
Alright, let’s talk about the music. The music is slightly stripped down from its arcade counterpart. There are the tunes that you would recognize from the arcade. However it’s not as robust and it doesn’t sound as beautiful as it would sound on an arcade cabinet.
And remember, we’re dealing with a very small speaker here, so it’s doing the best that it can.
The SFX too, the sound effects are decent, I get it. The punches sound like punches and the kicks sound like kicks.
What about the control? Okay, this is where we start to get into a little debate, I guess, on whether the control is good or not. There’s a little bit of a lag to the game. And like I said, I feel like this system is really getting pushed to its limits, and that could possibly be why we get a little bit of a lag tendency.
“If there’s one thing you learn in the ‘Pit, it’s you don’t F with Southside Jim.”
– Atari Joe
Now, another thing that the Lynx does quite often is, you have these Option Buttons on the Lynx. And you have your Button A and your Button B, so, you know, your “Kicks” and your “Punch”. But then if you want to pull off special combos and stuff like that, you have to reach over and hit these Option Buttons.
I’ve always felt that the Option Buttons are just slightly out of reach, just a little bit too much so that when I have to use them I feel like I miss a little split-second of control. And that could possibly be due to the way the buttons are laid out. So, if you’re playing a fighting game and you’ve got to reach over and hit this Option Button, chances are you’re gonna biff it.
Now I had mentioned that this version of Pit-Fighter is doing something that no other systems were doing. And that is the ability to scale the size of the characters on the playing field. You look at the Sega Genesis one, you look at the Super Nintendo one, you look at the Amiga one, you look at the ones on the computers, you look at every single version of Pit-Fighter, and this Atari Lynx version is the only version that is scaling the characters.
“Pit-Fighter features three playable fighters. Buzz: A big and strong ex-pro wrestler, Ty: An agile kickboxing champion, and Kato: A quick 3rd degree black belt. Pit-Fighter also has eight unplayable opponents: Executioner, Southside Jim, Angel, C.C. Rider, Mad Miles, Heavy Metal, Chainman Eddie, and Masked Warrior. Many Pit-Fighter characters have the same names of the actors who played them.”
So, the characters get bigger when they come close to the screen, and then the get smaller when they move away from the screen. That is a lot of processing power that you are asking this system to do. But, that’s what it does in the arcade, and this is the only other system that does that scaling effect.
So as I was looking at all the other different systems that had Pit-Fighter, because Pit-Fighter was on everything, this is the only one that is scaling the characters. That is pretty darn cool.
So what you lack in controls and sound and colors and that sort of a thing, ask yourself, Is your Sega Genesis version scaling the characters? No, it’s not. But this one is!
So if I’m looking for a guilty pleasure arcade game, I’m definitely going to play Pit-Fighter. If I see Pit-Fighter in the arcade, you better believe I’m going to put a quarter into it.
“Now remember, this was 1992 when Pit-Fighter came out for the Lynx. Can you imagine taking a portable system like this, on the go, and playing Pit-Fighter? Well, you’d be like the envy of your neighborhood, that’s for sure.”
– Brian Thomas Barnhart, Lynx Lounge
A year later Mortal Kombat was able to come out for the Sega Game Gear, and that’s a darn good port too! I remember having that when I was a kid, and it was pretty darn sweet. However, is it Pit-Fighter? Nah, it’s not Pit-Fighter, that’s for sure. And it certainly is not Patrick Swayze-worthy as far as the Road House goes, because that definitely goes to my guilty pleasure, Pit-Fighter.
Pick it up, it’s fun. Pick it up for a bunch of different systems. Play with your buddies, play with your friends. It’s a darn good game.
So that’s all she wrote for guilty pleasures, Pit Fighters, Road House, Patrick Swayze, and all that good stuff.
If you are looking for some more great Atari shows, check out 7800 Avenue, The Jag Bar, and of course Lynx Lounge. And if you need even more Atari stuff, you’ve got to check out atari.io. It’s a great website, all of your Atari needs will be met there, and I hope to see you again on the next episode. Cheers to you all, have a great time! Enjoy Pit-Fighter, and don’t be a jabroni. That’s my advice for you today. Cheers.
Pit-Fighter was programmed at Atari by Al Baker. Associate Producer Brad Delaney. Original Art by Atari Games. Lynx Art by Nathan Baker and Craig Erickson. Music by Matt Scott. Pit-Fighter Atari Arcade Game Actors: Bill Chase as Buzz, Marc Williams as Ty, Glenn Fratticelli as Kato, John Aguire as Executioner, James Thompson as Southside Jim, Angela Stellate as Angel, Rich Vargas as C.C. Rider, Miles McGowan as Mad Miles, Kim Rhodes as Heavy Metal, Eddie Venancio as Chainman Eddie, and Bill McAleenan as Masked Warrior.
Brian Thomas Barnhart is a classic gaming aficionado, retro pop culture connoisseur, and a Senior Fellow at Atari I/O. He is host of The Jag Bar, Lynx Lounge, 7800 Avenue, and the Atari I/O After Hours Podcast. Brian is a Moderator in the Atari I/O Forums under the name btbfilms76. You can follow him on Instagram and at his YouTube channel.
model # PA 2070